Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The True Spirit of Christmas Past

I decorated our Christmas tree this last week.

This is one of my favourite things to do during this busy season because -being the sentimental soul that I am - it gives me a reason to reminisce.

Like most of us I have quite the assortment of ornaments and I've kept them all (they just don't all go on the tree!) There's all the Disney ones that my friends and family have given me, the mice ornaments that I've bought myself (one every year) and of course the handmade ones that my girls made during their elementary years - with glitter and paint and waaaay too much glue.

But my favourite, by far, is the one my mom bought for Tony & me when we were just newlyweds.

It's round and white and it has two "Precious Moments" characters on it, riding on a sled in the snow. Underneath the drawing it says "Our First Christmas Together" and on other side it says "1981."

Every time I take that ornament out I can't help but revisit the many ghosts of Christmases past...

  • Our first Christmas together we (OK... me) bought all new decorations and ornaments, and then our 4 month old puppy broke into the house while we were away and broke half of them. I kept the boxes (with his little puppy teeth imprints) till last year. I told you I was sentimental.

  • The one Christmas that my family came to our house for Christmas morning I had the worse appendicitis attack ever and spent most of the day puking in the ER. Oh the joys... Now that I think of it, that's probably why my mother has never agreed to let me host since then.

  • There was also the "Christmas-Tree-Incident Christmas." After numerous attempts to get our live tree to stand upright and many not-nice things said about the Christmas Tree Farm staff, Tony brought his chain saw into my livingroom to straighten the bottom of the trunk. Wood chips went flying everywhere and I got the giggles. Apparently it was not meant to be funny.

  • Then there was the year that Tessa got her first cell phone. We wrapped it up the night before and rang her new number while she tried to open it. We'd never seen her cry over a Christmas present until then. It was awesome.

  • Our last Christmas was the most stressful as Tony struggled with a severe back injury and of course it was our worst winter ever. I think there was 12 blizzards that year and I had to shovel us out after every one of them. Most of that Christmas he spent in a Percacet induced fog.

My Christmas memories are all so vivid, some good and some not so good. They will forever be etched on my heart, but what I remember most is the family dinners, the laughing and the visiting. I remember the songs that we sing out about Christ's birth and I thank God that each of my children believe that that baby was born on this earth just for them.

And that is the True Spirit of Christmas Past.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

the Journey

Just a couple of weeks ago I went on a road trip to Winnipeg with my parents. We stopped whenever we felt like it, we had dinner in a remodeled & restored Pulp Burner (so cool), found about 15 geocaches, soaked in the incredible Rocky Mountains and marvelled at the open expanse of the prairie.

The trip reinforced what I already knew about myself. I am all about the journey.

Just recently Tony & I were exploring the Murrayville Cemetery (yes we were geocaching!). We were looking for Paul Murray's tombstone. Paul Murray was a pioneer and a pioneer in the truest sense of the word. Planning to settle in British Columbia he travelled with his sons from New York City, through the Panama Canal and up into the thick temperate rain forests of BC. He braved an untamed wild land, lived in a giant old growth cedar and, tragically, lost a son to the mighty Fraser. When we finally found his tombstone we saw a verse from 2 Timothy inscribed on it. It said, "I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith." What an amazing way to sum up this man's life.

This past month has, for the lack of a better word, sucked for us. We have dealt with anger and disappointment, worry and fear. There have been more than a few times when I've thought it would be so much easier if we were all in heaven right now... no worries, no sadness... we are all finally at our destination. But, when you've dealt with all that, it's time to be realistic and move on & it's time to make a choice. What do I do with all this? What is the road going to look like in front of me from now on? I have a choice and I choose joy.

God has given us this particular road to travel right now. It's a little scary, I don't know what's around the bend but I need to trust Him. I know that it will be exciting and new, I will learn something and have the chance to let Christ show through me. Time to start a new journey.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lessons from a Barnacle

A few weeks ago I went to Saltspring Island with some girlfriends. We were geocaching on a wonderful rocky beach and reveling in our freedom. Yes, it was only for a couple of days, but for those few days we are just young girls again, no worrying about children or what to make for supper, no laundry and no schedules. And what I love the most... complete freedom to explore.

We were doing just that, exploring this beach (which was called Octopus Beach), when Joan turned to me and said, "I'm so glad I'm not a barnacle!" I laughed and then thought, "That is so going to be the title of my next blog!"

We talked about spending your entire life glued to a rock or a ship. Never having the freedom to explore, have fun and see the world. Nothing sounds more depressing or boring or stupid as far as I'm concerned.

And then I Googled 'facts about barnacles.' Hmmmm....

Turns out barnacles don't spend their entire lives glued to something. They spend most of their adolescent lives swimming about, complete freedom to go and do whatever they want. Then, when they become adults they choose to attach themselves somewhere using one of the most powerful adhesives known in the world. They don't worry about the necessities of life, they trust that it will come to them and they wait patiently for it. I thought about this for a while and how I spend my days floating about, here and there, running around, trying to keep up and worrying about tomorrow, when I should be attaching myself to a Solid Rock.

Doesn't sound so stupid after all.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Lately I've been having my breakfast while standing at the kitchen sink.

No, I'm not doing the dishes from the night before. I am enjoying the show outside.
My hummingbirds.

I have two feeders... one at the kitchen window and another outside my diningroom window. A constant source of amusement - they chirp, fight, divebomb and eat - while we watch in amazement. And boy do they ever eat. Did you know...
  • A hummingbird must consume approximately 1/2 of its weight in sugar daily. The average hummingbird feeds 5-8 times per hour.
  • Hummingbirds cannot walk or hop, though their feet can be used to scoot sideways while they are perched.
  • When still, the hummingbird's heart beats 500 times a minute and doubles when excited.
  • They can fly right, left, up and down, backwards and even upside down, and they move their wings about fifty times a second. They are extremely fast in flight and able to change directions instantly.
  • Despite their small size they are extremely aggressive and will often fight over food, mates and territory. They will even attack crows and jays.
  • At night, their "thermal generators" shut down as they rest, and allow their body temperature to drop, so that less energy is used up while they sleep. This deep sleep is called "torpor."

I stand there and watch these incredible creatures. Perfectly and uniquely designed by an incredible Creator. And it makes me wonder - how can anyone possibly believe in evolution?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 30th

I always get a bittersweet feeling when May 30th comes around. On May 30th, 1990, our youngest daughter was born and it was the day that our lives changed forever.

At 5:57pm on that day 19 years ago (she will refuse any "Happy Birthdays" until this moment has come) our Tessa came into the world. It was immediately apparent that something was severly wrong with her... for one thing she was an alarming shade of blue and her legs, which should have been wound up tight like clocksprings, were lying flat and lifeless.

While the team of doctors & nurses worked to resuscitate her I begged God to deal with this for me. "I can not do this" I said. The change that came over me was immediate and, to tell you the truth, a little bizarre. When someone tells me that they had an 'out of body' experience I believe them, because it happened to me. After that it was like I was watching what was happening from the corner of the room. The peace that overcame me was overpowering......"You can do this," It said.

The next three weeks were insanely busy and overnight we became experts on Spina Bifida. We learned words like meningomyocele, hydrocephalus and scoliosis. We learned how to scrub up like surgeons and function on no sleep. I overcame my fear of driving to Vancouver, learned how to sleep in a chair & memorized every nurses name in the SCN (Special Care Nursery). We spent countless hours on the phone talking to friends, family and surgeons who needed consent.

Now all these things have faded into one fuzzy memory and for that I am so glad.

But there are things I never want to forget.

  • The dinners brought to us every day - so many that I didn't have to cook for nearly 2 months! (you know how I'd love that now!)

  • The gifts - Tessa had so many new dresses that she didn't wear them all in one year.

  • The help - it was incredible how our family and friends and our church came alongside us.

  • The power of prayer - it is overwhelming. God's peace is without measure. How does anyone go through something like this without God's divine intervention? I don't know but I never want to forget what it was like to experience it in such a powerful way.

Today Tessa is a wonderful, healthy 19 year old. I'd like to say that it as been wonderful and miraculous and that it's now all in the past but that would be a fairytale. What I can tell you is that the joy she has brought into our lives is immeasureable. She makes us laugh (she has her dad's sarcastic sense of humour) every day and she never complains about her situation. She absorbs every great moment she experiences and hangs on to the memory forever.

On her birthday this year she turned to us and said "I love my life!"

This is the girl that God gave to us that day.

Tess on her 19th birthday with Canadian Idol Greg Neufeld
(he just happens to be her 2nd cousin too!)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Last Monday Simon Cowell was on Oprah. The theme of the show that day was talent shows... a growing, worldwide phenomenom that is showing no signs of slowing down. I watched with some interest...zzzzzz... then they mentioned how this craze has hit Afghanistan. OK... now you have my attention.

"Afghan Star" has taken that country by storm and turned it on it's side. Thirteen years ago the Taliban outlawed music. You could be put in prison just for singing. Now this television show has given a platform for that supressed talent, including women, that has had to keep silent for far too long.

When Oprah asked Simon about these shows and the effects they've brought to their home countries he said, "The great thing about it is it's democracy. They've brought a certain kind of democracy to places like China & Afghanistan."

Millions are watching ‘Afghan Star’ and voting for their favorite singers. If they don't have power they use generators to run their televisions so they don't miss an episode. For many this is their first encounter with democracy and they are revelling in it... their right to vote.... even if it's just for who is their favourite pop singer.


The next day was our Provincial Election. I took a few minutes to pop down to my local polling station, considering this, I am sorry to admit, somewhat of a nuisance. The room was virtually empty except for the volunteers. I quickly cast my vote (I had lots on my to-do list that day) and popped the ballot into the box. The older gentleman at the table gave me a smile and said "Thanks for voting" and for a split second my eyes filled with tears. How blissfully unaware I have been of a world that is starving for any type of democratic freedom and how much I take for granted my right to vote.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shine... Make 'em Wonder What ya Got!

Last Sunday morning we had a guest speaker. He spoke about how we are to shine to those around us and he read from one of my favourite verses from the Sermon on the Mount:

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and then hide under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Coincidently one of my favourite songs by the Newsboys is called Shine.
The chorus goes like this:

make ´em wonder what you´ve got
make ´em wish that they were not
on the outside looking bored
let it shine before all men
let´em see good works, and then
let´em glorify the Lord

I had the feeling that God was trying to tell me something and that's the trouble... I'm not feeling very shiny these days.

After church, during coffee time, I had a great conversation with Carolyn. We talked about two people in our lives that are living very similar, and troubling, lives. We talked about the frustration of not being able to get through to them and not being able to say the things we want to say. I told her about the few things that I was able to do and how it didn't seem enough... and she said, "But you are shining!"

Thanks Carolyn for that encouragement! (See? This is why we have a church family!) I guess what I needed was the reminder that regardless of how I feel there are people in my life that will always be watching and even through the "dull & dingy" times, with God's help, I can continue to shine!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Parched, Dry and Dusty

Yes I know... I've neglected this blog lately. I usually wait until a lightning bolt hits me, a thought that springs to mind, and then I write about it. The words seem to come like a downpour and it is easy. But I haven't felt a storm coming... no lightning bolts in quite a while now. If anything it's been more like a bunch of teeny zaps of static electricity in a dry, crackly desert.

Here are a few of the zaps I experienced in the past month:
- Pain is not fun. It's even less fun to watch in someone you love.
- 50 is suddenly a pretty young age.
- The West Coast smells amazing in the Spring.
- Is there such a thing as a "soulmate?"
- Dirt is meant to get under your fingernails.
- There is no replacement for wonderful friends.
- I don't have enough money to explore like I want to.
- We are so blessed to live here.
- Clean windows are highly over-rated.
- Greed makes people do horrible, horrible things.
- Daffodils are my 'happy flower'.
- The older I get the less I care what people think of me.
- Life can be so unfair.
- Green is God's best colour.
- I don't read my Bible enough.

When I read this list I see that my thoughts lately have been disjointed and disconnected.
Maybe this is a dry season for me.... Lord, bring on the rain!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Tony and I just came back from watching the movie that won the Oscar for "Best Picture." I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about. Was it really worthy of nabbing the coveted Golden Boy?

It was... and then some.

The movie begins with foreshadowing. We are told how it ends. Jamal wins $1,000,000 dollars on India's version of WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE. Then the real story begins... How does he know the answer to almost every question that is thrown at him? We're taken back in time...

Jamal's life begins as a child in the garbage slums of Mumbai. He experiences far too much tragedy in his short life but amongst all the sorrow and pain he does one thing. He remembers and learns from what he experiences and he hangs on to what is good... refusing to let go of hope.

This was the first time in a long time that I've been at a movie where no one left the theatre when the movie was over. The credits rolled as the song "Jai Ho" played. I googled what Jai Ho means. It means "may victory be yours."

I think that that's the reason that this movie won Best Picture. It captures the essence of what our society refuses to acknowledge - life is full of disappointments and tragedies and they are not always a bad thing. Ultimately in the end we will be victorious. God never promises that life will always be easy. What He does say is that He will be with us through it all. God says that our whole life is laid out before Him. He know what every one of our days will hold. What we choose to do with those days is up to us. We can choose to just exist or we can choose to live each day, soaking it all in, no matter what the day holds.

Only He know why things happen and what the lessons from them are worth. Our job is to pay attention.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Good Samaritan

If you read my post about a month ago entitled "Yesterday" you know that my husband, Tony, suffered a pretty severe back injury a while ago. The last few weeks have consisted of every type of "therapy" that has been recommended to us including spinal inversion therapy and magnet therapy. He talks about Aaron like he's his new best friend (Aaron is his chiropractor) and he can now recite, from memory, the dialogue in every TV commercial known to man. He hasn't been able to walk, much less work, we had to cancel our favourite annual holiday to Texada Island, I'm pulling double duty around the house which included shovelling 12 storms worth of snow and just when I thought it couldn't suck more... it did.

I truly was beginning to question God and His wisdom on keeping humans on the planet. Why on earth would he tolerate us... we are so weak, fallible and sometimes, I'm sorry to say, not very nice.

Being the person I am, I was ruminating these thoughts, over and over, as I was on my way to Langley to pick up some office supplies at Staples. Of course, considering the mood I was in, it was completely fitting that it was pouring rain. I was loading everything out of my store buggy when an older gentleman (who, by the way, looked exactly like my Uncle Ed) came up to me and said, "I'll take that buggy back if you'd like." "Sure" I said, thinking that he needed a buggy for his shopping. So glad to get out of the rain, I got into my van and just happened to glance back and I saw the man take my buggy and put it in the buggy storage in front of the store. Then he went inside. He didn't even need a buggy. He did that just for me... a complete stranger in the parking lot.

That simple act of kindness hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't believe how it lifted my spirits and made me realize there is still goodness and good people in the world.

I came seriously close to going inside the store and giving him a huge hug but I knew that would just confirm that I was becoming unglued (and probably a bit scary)! Instead I thanked God for the Good Samaritan He gave me that day and vowed that I would pass it on. A simple, random act of kindness that, for me, that day, was not simple at all.